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© Jane Johnson
Jane Johnson and her husband along the
Longleaf Trace in Mississippi.

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Next Issue:
What did you love most about cycling when you were a kid? Or do you remember your first hikes or horse rides, and what made them stick in your memory?
(Deadline for submission: December 31, 2010)

We want to hear from you!
Essays should be no more than 250 words in length and may be edited for publication. If your essay is chosen, we'll ask you to provide a picture of yourself (perhaps on a rail-trail) to accompany the essay. Send your essay and contact information to or mail to:

Rails-to Trails Conservancy
Magazine/Trail Tales
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Court, N.W., 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037

More Trail Tales

For the Winter 2011 issue of Rails to Trails, we asked our readers: Has a fellow rail-trail user ever aided you in a time of need?

Jane Johnson of Ellisville, Miss., writes:
When I came to, I was lying on my back in the middle of the trail, with my right arm across my chest looking awfully funny and hurting like h---. My husband and I were riding on the beautiful 41-mile Longleaf Trace in southern Mississippi. I had apparently hit a large rock 10 miles from where we had left the car. My helmet was still on, and I wasn't bleeding badly from any abrasions. Aside from my arm, I could not sense any other injuries.

I knew I could not walk and push my bike 10 miles to get to our car and then the hospital. So we made a temporary splint using a flat metal first aid kit and a scarf I had around my head for a sweat band. 

Suddenly, around the corner rode some more riders. One of them, Chris Burge, took control. He called 911 and told the ambulance to come to a rest stop three miles back down the trail. But the trail is only 10-feet wide, and the ambulance could not turn around on it and would have had to back up the whole three miles. Burge had a small pickup truck at the rest stop, though, so rode to get it, packed our bikes in the back and drove us back to the rest stop to meet the ambulance. He then took my husband and bikes back to our car at the head of the trail so my husband could join me at the hospital.

I had a dislocated wrist and broken forearm. I was very grateful for my Good Samaritan, Chris Burge.

Higdon Roberts of Tuscaloosa, Ala., writes: 
We once took a self-guided bike trip along the Mosel River in Germany. Day two of our ride, midway between two towns, we had a flat, and the sparsely equipped emergency kit was inadequate. Just then, five German bikers came zooming around the bend and stopped when I yelled, "Help!" They patched the tire but told us we had to get a new inner tube as soon as possible.

As we entered the next town, the tire went flat again. We walked our bikes to the nearest house and explained our plight. Communication was a problem since they spoke no English and I could not speak German. We managed to get directions to the bike shop, but we couldn't locate it.

Once again, we sought help. This time, a woman hanging laundry in her backyard stopped what she was doing and walked us to the home of the shopkeeper. This resident informed us the bike shop was his son's, but he had recently relocated.

Time was becoming a real issue, as we had another 30 miles to cover before dark, locate the hotel and find our luggage waiting for us. Just then, an elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair stopped to chat in German to the homeowner. Growing anxious about our predicament and becoming irritated by their extended conversation, we had no choice but to wait. After several minutes, the homeowner said, "Follow the lady in the scooter. She'll take you to the bike shop." Nine helpful souls later, we were back on the road.

Barbara Bennet of Gallitzin, Pa., writes: 
I'm 64 years old and recently took up bicycling as a good form of exercise for arthritis. When I'd picked up a little confidence, a friend at a bike shop suggested I try a night, or "possum," ride.

My first one, on the
Lower Trail near Altoona, Pa., was with a group of rather experienced riders. I had built up some endurance but not a lot of speed, so when a storm approached, everyone else raced ahead to the shelter and left me behind. I found myself alone, and with a not-very-dependable $5 light, when the rains came. It was thundering, and the lightning was lighting up the cornfields on the side of the trail. I became scared, and rain was pounding my glasses and obscuring my vision.

Suddenly, my angel appeared and said his name was Mike, and that he would get me to the shelter where the rest of the riders were waiting out the storm. He talked to me and guided me back from four miles out.

After that night, I couldn't describe Mike because I hadn't clearly seen his face. Almost two years later, my friend and I were four hours away from home doing the
Pine Creek Rail Trail near Wellsboro, Pa. We stopped for a breather, and I heard a guy talking to his wife. I looked at him and asked if he rode with bikers from the Altoona area. He said yes, and I told him I felt sure he had rescued me one night in a storm—I'd never forget his voice. Even his wife remembered the event. I told him I had thought about him often and was still truly thankful and considered him an angel. We have ridden together a few times since, and he never lets me fall behind.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037